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Wild Leek/Ramp pesto Recipe

Ben Belty

Spring is here and with it brings the best source of plant food, wild spring edibles. I harvested several pounds of AlliumTricoccum so I decided to make a pesto out of the leaves. Pesto is among my favorite ways to enjoy wild plants for several reasons of which I will discuss below.

 
Pictured here are Whole Ramps cleaned and ready for processing into food.

Pictured here are Whole Ramps cleaned and ready for processing into food.

Pesto is a traditional Italian sauce made with pine nuts, fresh basil, olive oil, Parmesan cheese and garlic. I decided to put my own spin on it and use ingredients I had on hand which where Pecans, Ramps, Hemp seeds, Romano cheese, Lemon Juice and Olive oil. 

Though these were ingredients I already had, they were also chosen specifically for their taste, nutrition and overall benefits to health.

Pecans are by far my favorite nut. They are a species of Hickory and closely related to walnuts. Also, the species have not been subjected to significant breeding and hybridization much like almonds or other nuts. Overall this means they have a more favorable fatty acid ratio and are high in Monounsaturated fats, the same beneficial fats found in olives. They are also native to North America and were an important food crop of several Native American tribes. Not to mention they taste awesome and are about 70% oil. Wild varieties are still available here.

The most important part of this recipe is, of course, the ramps. They come with a whole host of benefits. Some of these include high levels of vitamin C, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties. If you have not tried ramps you will not be disappointed, they are exceptionally delicious.

The final important ingredient I want to touch on is the cheese. I find it's no coincidence that traditional cultures chose to combine certain foods with others. Hard cheeses like Romano and Parmesan contain high levels of vitamin K2, a fat soluble vitamin that directs calcium into it's proper locations within the body. Hard cheese, especially when unpasteurized, contains high levels of bio-available calcium which further helps to nourish our bones and teeth among other things.

One final point I want to touch on is an additional benefit of pesto and the importance of vitamin C in general or better yet, the importance of proper food combining. Vitamin C has been shown  to counteract the phytic acid load of a meal in as little as a 50 mg dose per meal. Phytic acid is the storage form of phosphorus and can inhibit absorption of important minerals such as calcium, iron and more. Given this fact, we can better understand the importance of proper grain and nut preparation and the importance of adequate dietary vitamin C. Wild Plants such as Ramps contain higher levels overall of cultivated plants.

Ingredients:

1 bunch of Wild Leeks/Ramps about enough to loosely fill the food processor

1 cup Pecans(sub hazelnuts) 

1/2 cup 1x1 inch hard cheese cubes

1/4 cup of EVOO (more or less as desired)

tablespoon of lemon juice

pinch of salt

Making the Pesto

Step 1: Combine the nuts and cheese in the food processor.

Step 2: Pulse the ingredients until chopped to your desired texture. 

Step 3: Add the prepared Ramp leaves and the remaining ingredients. By prepared I mean chopped coarsely with bulbs removed. Personally I find them better for cooking. Further harvesting large quantities of bulbs is unsustainable. 

Step 5: Pulse until thoroughly combined and smooth. Serve with your favorite grain such as Wild Rice, Sourdough bread or Wholegrain pasta. This pesto makes a great topping on fish and meat as well.

Note: If you don't have access to any Wild Leeks you could substitute Arugula and add a few cloves of Garlic to achieve a similar taste.

Is Wild Rice more nutritious than this popular food?

Ben Belty

Have you considered some meat may not be as nutritious as we are told? Meat is not an unnecessary food by any means but could there perhaps be foods that when it comes to nutritional comparison give meat a run for it's money? You may be surprised to know and even more excited if your a vegetarian to know this...

Wild Rice is as nutritious or more than Grass Fed Beef gram for gram.

Here is a chart courtesy of the Delta Institute illustrating the breakdown of the most important nutrients in Wild Rice and Grass fed beef.

Courtesy of Delta Institute of Natural history. 

This is exciting news because it illustrates how important and vital adding wild plant foods to our diets really is. Many associate grains and other plant foods with being unhealthy and when it come to things like all purpose flour, white rice or other polished grains that is very true. Wild Rice however is advanced when it compares to other foods wether they be plant or animal foods. Wild Rice is not just a gourmet side dish it is a staple food with MASSIVE nutritional benefits far beyond its micro and macro nutrients. 

Not only does Wild Rice help fulfill many RDA requirements for vitamins and minerals it is 14% protein and contains a balanced amino acid profile complimentary to many meat products which further moves it into the category of a wholesome staple food option.

Animal foods such as grass fed beef certainly posess benefits beyond those listed here such as fat soluble vitamins but what we are illustrating is the overall vitamin content of Wild Rice compared to a popular food. Given the quote below grass fed beef and Wild Rice could make for a very wholesome combination for the modern health conscious consumer. 

Wild Rice is the most nutritive single food which the Indians of North America consume. The Indian diet of this grain, combined with maple sugar, and with bison, deer, and other meats, was probably richer than that of average American family of today.
— Albert E. Jenkins, 1900. From "Wild Rice and the Ojibway people" by Thomas Vennum Jr.

UsE PROMO CODE: 5WINTER10 when you order here!

*offer valid for 10% off 5 pounds or more.

Top 3 Health Benefits of Wild Rice:

Ben Belty

Grains have been a highly controversial and sometimes demonized food over the past decade or so with low carb and “paleo” diets coming into fashion. Despite all the negative claims against grains there stands a grain that provides us with a host of benefits that will make you rethink the moniker “all grains are bad”.

PROTEINS AND AMINO ACIDS

Wild Rice has a great Amino acid profile scoring at 84 whereas white rice comes in at 71. Cooked Wild Rice is 14% protein compared to white rice at 8%. The extra protein and amino acids in Wild Rice help to promote a feeling of fullness with less calories consumed. Because of the amino acid profile in Wild Rice it has a high protein efficiency rate. What this means is that the body can easily and efficiently convert the proteins in wild rice into proteins useable in the human body. This makes Wild Rice and optimal food for recovery from strenuous exercise.  
 

 LOW ALLERGEN

Wild Rice can often be tolerated by individuals who are allergic to other grains. Wheat has been shown to have up to 27 different allergenic compounds the most well known being gluten. Wild Rice contains no gluten and has not been shown to contain higher levels of other allergens. Grain allergy is often the result of hybridization and protein mutations that occur during this process. For example modern wheat has not only been hybridized but it is the result of accidental gamma radiation experiments done to seeds before planting them. This has likely caused in part the massive influx of wheat allergy in the west. Real Wild Rice has of course never been hybridized and is a truly heirloom species. Another factor to consider is that chemicals used in industrial agriculture such as glyphosate have also been implicated in the recent wave of food allergies. Our Wild Rice beds are Certified Organic and on protected land far away from any form of industrial agriculture.
 

GUT HEALTH AND MICRO-BIOME BALANCING

This is an area where Wild Rice is most valuable - rebuilding and maintaining health of the intestinal tract which as we know leads to optimal health of the whole organism. As noted previously Wild Rice contains a balanced profile of amino acids and a great protein efficiency ratio. What does this do? It has an anti inflammatory effect on the body and directly contributes to the repair and growth of new tissues. This is important because many foods in modern diets are contributing to inflammation and deterioration rather than rebuilding. There are also phyto chemical compounds that have been shown to contribute to tissue repair and further contribute to the anti inflammatory effects of Wild Rice. Wild Rice is also rich in what is known as resistant starch which is a type of carbohydrate that survives the digestive process of our stomach acid and is converted to a short chain fatty acid known as Butyrate. Butyrate has a host of benefits ranging from increased energy levels to anti inflammatory effects throughout the whole body. Resistant starch serves as a prebiotic that feeds and balances the human microbiome.

Click here to Try some of our Wild Rice today with Promo code: 5WINTER10 to save 10% on 5 pounds or more.

 

Our Wild Rice story

Ben Belty

Wild Rice is a food that has piqued my curiosity for many years. As a boy, I spent my summers at Rice Lake, Ontario named the "rice bowl" of the continent by the indigenous people. At the time I wondered, “If this place is called Rice Lake, Where is the rice?”.  I can recall seeing Wild Rice for sale at a vendor on a reservation near the area- though my family was not interested in purchasing- I was intrigued. As it turns out several years later I was reconnected with Wild Rice at a Food Co-op. I was eager to try it. I connected the dots and realized this must have been what Rice Lake was named after. I purchased this product but was met with disappointment. What I had purchased was actually hybridized “paddy rice”. I tried soaking this rice and cooking it for very long periods but I never found it to be a very enjoyable food. Fast forward a few years and I became interested in learning more about wild plants and wild food so I found myself studying at The Delta Institute in Maine. I was served Wild Rice that was harvested by the teacher of the class. I was instantly surprised at how much different it was than what I purchased previously at the grocery store. At that point I began learning more about the plant to find out how I could bring this food into my life as a staple.

As it turns out it was native to most of the North East, Great lakes region, Midwest of the United States and South-central Canada on over to the Eastern coast of Canada. Unfortunately it no longer grows in most of the more southern areas it was once native to- mostly due to colonization of the land for capital uses that flooded waterways and changed the land faster than what the plant could catch up with. This is due to the fact that Wild Rice requires water of a certain depth and current speed in order to flourish. I realized I was not going to be able to harvest this myself so I began searching out other options. There are many harvesters and producers of Wild Rice in this country and there are several websites that can connect people producing value added wild rice products with those who want to purchase them. So I began trying different producers. Some of the companies and individuals that are selling Wild Rice are actually selling True Wild Rice product but most are not. Some are marketing paddy rice as wild and selling it as is or alongside real Wild Rice. As I tried different brands of Wild Rice I began to notice some serious quality differences. That is why I have started this company. I am bringing to the market the most delicious and nutritious Wild Rice and other wild foods. I pledge to sell single origin products with best practices in mind. You can be sure that all of our products will be harvested in a manner that honors the land and ensures that these organisms can continue to spread and thrive. Our mission is to help spread these native species so that once again our land can manifest the biodiveristy it once had.

How to prepare Hand Harvested Wild Rice

Ben Belty

By the time our Wild Rice has reached your hands it has gone through a great deal of processing to become the wholesome food you are about to experience and be nourished by. I will be going into greater detail about how our Wild Rice is finished at a later time so be sure to sign up for our newsletter.

Today I would like to discuss the most important aspect of Wild Rice and that is the actual Cooking and best preparation methods. It is a very basic task which I will outline below. First I would like to talk about the necessity or lack there of to soak Wild Rice before cooking. Soaking Wild Rice is optional unlike other grains and seeds that should generally be soaked to reduce phytic acid. This is because during the finishing process like any other Real Wild Rice it is parched over Wood Fire to help remove the hull. However the heat during this process destroys the enzymes that normally are activated when soaking other grains. All is not lost though as it turns out the heat does some of the same work as soaking and deactivates some of the Phytic acid. If you choose to soak your rice I recommend doing so for at least 4 hours for maximum benefits and this can reduce the cooking time by almost half.

Basic Cooking Instructions

Combine 3 parts spring water with 1 part Wild Rice bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium and cook until water has been absorbed. Cooking time is approximately 45minutes.

Optional but recommended: Soak Wild Rice for a minimum of 4 hours at a ratio of 2 1/4 part water to 1 part rice and reduce cooking time to 30 minutes. Lipids such as Butter, Ghee, Olive Oil, Coconut oil and Salt can be added at time of cooking. I recommend adding a least a small amount of Lipids at the time of cooking as it helps regulate the temperature and prevents boiling over.